Call to give blue-collar workers equal days off

Local | Cindy Wan 10 Jan 2019

Lawmakers yesterday moved a non-binding motion to give blue-collar workers an extra six days of public holidays, including Victory Day.

The motion was tabled by lawmaker Poon Siu-ping, who proposed a statutory holiday on September 3 to mark the Victory Day of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression.

Lawmakers amended the motion by adding that the number of general holidays and statutory holidays should be made equal.

In Hong Kong, employers must give 12 days of paid statutory holidays in a year for employees who are under a continuous contract of not less than three months.

White-collar workers, however, are usually given 17 days of paid holidays in keeping with the general holidays of the city.

Federation of Trade Unions' lawmaker Ho Kai-ming proposed adding five statutory holidays so that blue-collar workers would be entitled to the same holidays as white-collar workers.

The amended motion was supported by lawmakers from both sides of the political divide, with the exception of a few representing the commercial sectors.

Lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin said Hong Kong was running on one country, two holiday systems because some are working while other "superior people" take a rest during general holidays.

Also supporting the motion, lawmaker Elizabeth Quat Pui-fan said blue-collar workers suffered from social class discrimination under this unfair holiday system.

Lawmaker Tommy Cheung Yu-yan of the catering sector, disagreed, saying the city had a labor shortage. He suggested canceling the Labour Day holiday before giving a day-off on the Victory Day.

"If lawmakers are really that generous, they should offer their staff a day off after the Mother's Day," he said.

The amended motion was passed with a majority vote from both the geographical and functional constituencies.

But Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said the government had no plans to make the Victory Day a statutory holiday.

He gave examples of other countries to support his argument that Hong Kong was not at the bottom in the worldwide ranking of the number of statutory holidays.

He said it is not wise to add five statutory holidays without reaching a consensus between the employers and employees.

cindymt.wan@singtaonewscorp.com

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